A Principal recently asked me what’s the difference between a hundred classrooms observations, three hundred or six hundred?
The answer is for an instructional leader, visiting classrooms is like an athlete working on his/her footwork in most sports. Great footwork provides the athlete with a competitive advantage, a foundation for consistent play, and a chance to chase down excellence. As PowerWalks (a specific form of a formative classroom observation) volume increases a whole host of benefits are accrued and experienced by the instructional leader.
I then shared some specifics about the Principal’s campus and a peer campus…. Here is an abridged version of our conversation.
Your peer campus is beating you on two fronts. And you should be concerned with this.
- Your peer campus had 25 observers conduct 5,175 PowerWalks during the 2017/18 school year. This is an average of 207 PowerWalks per observer.
- Your campus had 11 observers conduct 2,123 PowerWalks for 2017/18 school year. This is an average of 193 PowerWalks per observer.
The per observer count is fairly close. This is really not an issue.
This is where your peer school is beating you:
- They have twice as many people observing classroom instruction with a purpose. This means they have twice as many people that are starting to think deeply about what is going on in classrooms. Now more deep thinkers won’t always beat fewer deep thinkers. But I wouldn’t bet against them.
- Their teachers are getting significantly more cues to try new/improved instructional practices than your teachers. Which means, over time, they are building a campus environment that is more conducive to changing instructional practices than your campus.
The good news is that this can be easily fixed. Just add some more people (I suggest about 15) to your observation team.
But, here is the not so good news. Individually the other Principal did 705 PowerWalks this year compared to the 357 that you did. She’s setting a more visible example for her team. Which makes it easier for her to keep her campus systems and her people moving forward. The silver lining is that this too is an easy fix.
Now you know, so go get them!
Think. Work. Achieve.
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